My recent visit to Nigeria brought together in my mind two themes I have written about previously: being part of a global profession, and engaging with our members both through their careers and afterwards.
We are active members of several global networks, including Chartered Accountants Worldwide (CAW). The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) is also a member of CAW and like all CAW members we share common values and a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of professional and ethical practice.
With ICAEW colleagues Michael Armstrong (Regional Director, Middle East, Africa and South Asia) and Justin West I met with the CEO, President, Deputy President and members of the ICAN executive team to discuss building on our existing Memorandum of Understanding. ICAEW and ICAN also co-hosted a very successful Economic Insight event: it was standing room only.
At a lunch for ICAEW members I met our contact member in Nigeria, Sanyade Okoli, along with members in industry and practice – including our new Council member for Africa, Ede Dafinone, who takes over from Eddie Ouko in June. Ede is a fellow of both ICAEW and of ICAN as well as being an Associate of the Chartered Taxation Institute of Nigeria. I also met two ICAEW Life members (one proudly sporting his ICAEW Centenary 1880 – 1980 tie), both of whom had qualified in the UK.
My last meeting was unplanned and unexpected. At the Economic Insight event someone suggested that I should meet Pa Akintola Williams FCA CFR CBE, the doyen of the profession in Nigeria. Born in August 1919, he travelled to London in 1944 and obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree, before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1949. On his return to Nigeria he served with the Inland Revenue until 1952, when he left to found Akintola Williams & Co. the first indigenous chartered accountancy practice in Africa. He was the first president of AAN, the body that in 1965 gained its Charter to become ICAN. I felt enormously honoured to meet this wise, good humoured and humble man in the company of the current president of ICAN, Razek Jaiyeola.
Welcoming delegates to the Economic Insight event, I had pointed to the banner beside me which bore the words, “creating a world of strong economies together”. By strengthening our relationships with other chartered institutes around the world, we strengthen our ability to deliver that vision. And while the words may be relatively new, the vision is not: my meeting with Pa Akintola Williams made that very clear to me.
I came away from Lagos confident that we will build even closer ties with our colleagues in Nigeria (I am in fact meeting the ICAN president again in London this week). A quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes which appears in the forward to the history of ICAN, sums it up: 'the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in the direction in which we are moving'. I am confident that our shared values and vision will continue to take us in the right direction.